Artilect Review: Offers a New Take on Merino Wool Base Layers

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The Lowdown

Artilect has convinced me that there are serious advantages to wearing base layers made from fabric that is not 100% merino wool. By mixing in other materials they have created base layers that dry five times faster, have 35% more stretch, are 50% more durable, and are more than 50% less wind permeable. They are priced right at the sweet spot for quality merino clothing and are available in a variety of colors.

Pros

  • Priced reasonably for merino base layers
  • Nuyarn maintains all the benefits of merino wool while being thinner, lighter, and more durable
  • Fit and finish are excellent and reflect the quality the company is bringing to their creations

Cons

  • Because they are designed to hug your body the sizing runs a bit smaller than expected
  • Limited styles and product lines are available, but this is a new company and I expect we will see much more
Artilect Review: Offers a New Take on Merino Wool Base Layers Listen to this article

When I first started getting into merino wool clothing, I was a purist and only purchased clothing made from 100% merino wool. Recently I’ve discovered companies that do some magic with fabrics that, while not 100% merino wool, offer all the same benefits with fewer downsides. Artilect is one of those companies, and it is doing some interesting things.

Merino wool is pretty impressive as a material. It is light, warm, and doesn’t wrinkle. It can be machine washed, and air dries quickly. Unlike the “scratchiness” of those oversized, thick wool sweaters many of us wore as kids, merino wool fibers are thin, and the fabric is surprisingly smooth and comfortable.

Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant, so garments made from it can be worn multiple times before needing to be washed. And it is temperature regulating, so merino wool helps keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

But merino wool isn’t perfect. When you need ultimate warmth, Thicker materials can take some time to dry, and clothing made from 100% merino wool is far less durable than cotton or synthetics.

Artilect is a new company out of Boulder, Colorado, that has found a way to mix merino wool with other materials to create clothing that has all the benefits of 100% merino while being thinner, more durable, and offering more stretch than 100% merino. They refer to their fabric as “Nuyarn,” which they describe as “stronger, warmer, and more sustainable wool.”

They go on to explain:

Nuyarn merino wool is naturally moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and built to last, we achieve this with the pioneering weave of the fabric that is 50% more durable than traditional wool.

Artilect sent me two of their products to check out. Before we take a closer look, let’s see how the company describes itself and its mission. As they put it:

ARTILECT is driven by people with decades of experience at the highest levels of designing, developing and actually using performance apparel. We utilize field-proven technologies in fabrics and construction and work directly with the world’s most innovative suppliers to continue to push limits and set new standards for others to follow.
ARTILECT is built to last because making fewer things is the ultimate sustainability platform. We have a responsibility to protect all our future environments with every decision we make.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s check out the two products they sent for review.

Artilect Men’s Boulder 125 Tee

Man wearing the Artilect Men's Boulder 125 Tee in red.

The Artilect Men’s Boulder 125 Tee has an MSRP of $85. That price sits right at the midpoint of what you can expect to pay for a merino wool t-shirt. I have some t-shirts that were under $50 but others that were more than $100 each. Some merino t-shirts can cost significantly more than that, although I have not been able to bring myself to spend that much on a t-shirt.

In general, the less expensive merino wool t-shirts look great out of the box, but they will show wear more quickly. Since one of my goals is to have less clothing but higher quality, I’ve increased my target price when shopping for additional t-shirts and rarely look at anything under $75.

The label on the Artilect Men's Boulder 125 Tee's sleeve

When I first pulled the Artilect t-shirt from the box, I was struck by how thin and light it was. At 125G, the fabric is what other companies refer to as “summer weight” or “ultralight.” Such t-shirts are designed for warm weather and are a bit delicate due to their thinness.

Thanks to the use of Nuyarn, this t-shirt is actually designed for cold rather than warm weather. You might be surprised, but merino wool clothing is excellent for temperature regulation on warm summer days.

Artilect explains that their 125GSM Nuyarn material “offers an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, 5x faster drying, and remarkable long-term durability.”

In other words, this thin t-shirt is tough enough that you won’t punch your finger through the material when putting it on (trust me, I’ve done that with two Sumer-weight t-shirts already) while offering a surprising degree of warmth during colder months.

Man wearing Artilect Men's Boulder 125 Tee and Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

The fabric feels great to the touch thanks to the use of 18-micron Australian merino wool, which comes from sheep who have not been subjected to mulesing, a brutal process often performed on Merino sheep to prevent them from attracting skin-burrowing flies.

When I put the t-shirt on, I was also surprised to find that, thanks to the fabric composition, it stretches more than my other merino t-shirts. That’s a good thing since this t-shirt is designed to hug your skin rather than hang loosely around you the way classic t-shirts do. It also means that this t-shirt is truly a base layer rather than a shirt for standalone wear by anyone other than those who are truly thin and cut.

I was sent a review sample in bright red, and while I don’t usually wear red, the deep, rich color looks fantastic. We will see how it retains its color over time, but for now, it’s quite nice.

The construction of the shirt is impressive. The seams are straight and tight with no loose or hanging threads, and it has no-chafe flatlock seams and gusseted armpits, so you won’t chafe when wearing it.

Hang loop built into Artilect Men's Boulder 125 Tee

A hang-dry loop makes it convenient to hang the shirt after washing, whether you choose to machine wash the t-shirt on cold or hand wash it during travel. And since Nuyarn maintains all the benefits of merino wool, you won’t need to wash it nearly as much as you would were this made from cotton or synthetics.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

But Artilect went one step further when designing this shirt and used a matching eyelet knit beneath the armpits. This gives the t-shirt increased breathability without making it look like it was pieced together from different materials.

Our short sleeve t-shirts can be used for a wide range of activities, from summer hikes to late-season skiing and boarding. Featuring Nuyarn merino wool, our t-shirts keep you cool and dry all day long thanks to the natural moisture-wicking properties, layer with a warmer jacket for those colder adventures or pair with a lightweight shell for rainy days.

Rear view of man wearing the Artilect Men's Boulder 125 Tee

Features:

  • Superior bluesign approved 125GSM Nuyarn merino fabric technology offers extra loft for an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, 5x faster drying, and remarkable long-term durability
  • Superfine 18-micron non-mulsed Australian merino Wool for maximum softness and wearability
  • Incredible stretch and recovery
  • Easy Fit offers a modern fit with full coverage
  • Targeted eyelet placements for increased breathability
  • No-chafe flatlock seams
  • Gusseted Armpits
  • Machine Washable
  • Hang-Dry Loop

I’m quite impressed with the shirt but there is a caveat. I usually wear a men’s size large in t-shirts. This Boulder t is cut a bit small because it’s intended to hug your body so you get maximum benefit from the merino. That’s great from a functional perspective but, since I’m not in the best shape, it means I’ll only be wearing this t-shirt under other layers. I’ll probably pick up a shirt in x-large to see if that might fit me better for summer wear as my only layer.

Still, the fact that the material is as thin as it is while still offering superb warmth and is 50% more durable than my 100% merino shirts makes it a compelling motion if you are moving toward a merino wardrobe. Check it out here.

Artilect Men’s Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

Man wearing Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

Artilect also sent me a pair of their $90 Men’s Boulder 125 3/4 Legging. At $90, the leggings are on par with other merino leggings I’ve purchased. Thanks to the use of Nuyarn, however, they are thinner and offer more stretch than any of my previous base layer purchases.

Side note: If you have never worn merino leggings during winter, I highly suggest you try a pair. I wore merino leggings all winter long, and this has been the first winter I wasn’t constantly cold.

Front view of man wearing the Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

Like the Boulder t-shirt, the leggings are made from 125GSM Nuyarn merino fabric technology. That means it offers” extra loft for an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, 5x faster drying, and remarkable longterm durability.”

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The superfine 18-micron non-mulesed Australian merino Wool used in construction means the fabric is thin and incredibly soft while offering a significant amount of stretch that allows the leggings to hug your body. That, in turn, helps keep you warm without limiting your freedom of movement.

Side view of man wearing Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

Other features include engineered seams and eyelet placement for increased mobility and breathability, no-chafe flatlock seams, and a gusseted crotch. And, like the Boulder t-shirt, the leggings are machine washable in cold and have a hang-dry loop so you can hand wash and airdrop while traveling.

Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging

Features:

  • Superior bluesign approved 125GSM Nuyarn merino fabric technology offers extra loft for an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, 5x faster drying, and remarkable long-term durability
  • Superfine 18-micron non-mulsed Australian merino Wool for maximum softness and wearability
  • Incredible stretch and recovery
  • Above the Boot Cut for seamless layering
  • Targeted eyelet placements for increased breathability
  • No-chafe flatlock seams
  • Gusseted Crotch

This is my first pair of 3/4 length leggings that are designed to stop above the top of boots. I didn’t know if I would like them but, on a warm day last week, I put them on under a pair of athletic shorts and went for a bike ride. Within the first few minutes, I was sold.

3/4 length leggings are a great way to keep your legs warm without having leggings that come all the way down to your ankle. The only downside is that the bottoms can ride up a bit and need to be adjusted back into position if you put them on under long pants.

I’m wearing the review sample right now and can absolutely feel the difference between the covered portions of my legs and the portion that is not. As you might guess, my lower calves and ankles are a bit cold, while my knees and thighs are toasty warm!

Overall I’m as impressed by the leggings as I am by the t-shirt. The material looks and feels thin enough to be a summer-weight shirt, but that belie’s the incredible warmth they offer. Check them out.

Back of Artilect Men's Boulder 125 3/4 Legging retail packaging

Artilect has convinced me that there are serious advantages to wearing base layers made from fabric that is not 100% merino wool. By mixing in other materials they have created base layers that dry five times faster, have 35% more stretch, are 50% more durable, and are more than 50% less wind permeable. They are priced right at the sweet spot for quality merino clothing and are available in a variety of colors.

I’m glad to be getting to know a new clothing company and, as previously noted, will likely pick up one of the Boulder t-shirts in size XL so I can wear it on its own this summer. I’m intrigued by some of the company’s other lines and hope to have the chance to check them out too. In the meantime, you can see all of this new company’s initial offerings here.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review samples

What I Like: Priced reasonably for merino base layers; Nuyarn maintains all the benefits of merino wool while being thinner, lighter, and more durable; Fit and finish are excellent and reflect the quality the company is bringing to their creations

What Needs Improvement: Because they are designed to hug your body the sizing runs a bit smaller than expected; Limited styles and product lines are available, but this is a new company and I expect we will see much more

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.